Levels and Advancement

Magic Judge Certification

Judge Academy is proud to be a part of your journey to becoming a certified Magic: The Gathering Judge. We have designed a curriculum to help develop your game knowledge, tournament familiarity, and interpersonal skills – all things that combine to form an effective judge and community leader.

Detailed below are the requirements to attain each level of certification through our program. Individual eligibility details can be found below certification requirements.

The Rules Advisor certification allows a player to set themselves apart in their communities by recognizing a heightened understanding of Magic rules and interactions. This certification is perfect for an individual who wants to offer additional assistance in resolving complicated game situations or answer rules-related questions from other players.

RAs are only tested on the rules of the game but have not been tested on how to run a tournament or deal with player issues. If you are a Rules Advisor who wants to learn how to help solve issues when things go wrong, or how to run an event at your local game store then you’ll want to start looking at Level 1.

RAs are non-paying members and not certified Judges, therefore do not get access to Judge Benefits.

RAs will be awarded upon completion of the Magic Core Competencies track.

  • Steps and Phases of a Turn
  • Combat in Depth
  • Casting Spell and Activating Abilities
  • Keyword Actions and Abilities
  • Replacement Effects and Triggered Abilities
  • Layers (Focus on Layer 7)
  • Priority and State Based Actions
  • Detail of Different Magic Formats
  • RA Exam


In addition to demonstrating sufficient knowledge of the Magic Comprehensive Rules, a Level 1 Judge understands the Customer Service skills and Regular REL policies needed to run a small store-level event such as an FNM.

Level 1 Judges are not tested on more complex sections of the rules or on Competitive REL policies. Some Level 1 Judges will be capable of floor judging a Competitive REL event unsupervised, but this is not a default expectation of the role.

  1. Complete Level One Modules (Core Competencies, Event Management, Community Building)
  2. Judge a sanctioned event
  3. Receive an endorsement
  4. Pass the L1 Rules and Policy Tests

Level One Modules

The Level 1 Curriculum Includes all of the RA modules and tests which cover the fundamentals of the rules, as well Level 1 Event Management and Community Building Modules.

Additionally, Level 1 candidates will need to complete the following three prerequisites before unlocking the L1 Membership in the store:

Event Experience

While the educational modules can give you a firm understanding of rules, policy, and even logistics, there’s nothing like actually judging an event for the first time. It’s important for judges to have an appropriate understanding of what they’re getting into, and that practical experience is hugely valuable. On top of that, it can help candidates figure out what they like (or don’t like!) about judging.

A candidate should have practical experience using tournament software, answering a few judge calls, announcing the start and end of a round for a small local event, or participating as a member of a team at a larger event. Any work that a judge candidate does in this way should be compensated appropriately.

Level 2 or Level 3 Endorsement

A fully automatic system without a human checkpoint can lead to issues, so candidates will also need to get an endorsement from a Judge Academy certified Level 2 or Level 3 judge or from a Magic Tournament Organizer that has the TO Endorsement Writer badge. They can endorse you from your profile page. More information can be found in Expectations and Endorsements.

Level 1 Test

Upon completion of the modules above the Level 1 Final Test will become available and a score of 80% or higher will be required to pass. Once a candidate has completed all of the prerequisites, they can go to the account details tab of their profile (or www.judgeacademy.com/memberships) to become an official JA Judge and receive their certification and membership. The membership dues for all members, regardless of level, are $85 USD + tax where appropriate per year.

Expectations and Endorsements

As part of the L1 Advancement Process, an L1 candidate needs to find somebody to endorse them. As mentioned in the requirements, a fully automatic system without a process of verification can lead to judges entering the program without someone who can give them feedback and help them grow. Previous systems have either had barriers to entry that prevented qualified candidates from being able to become certified judges or faced challenges with integrating judges into their communities. Candidates should be observed by the judge or tournament organizer endorsing them, so they can receive specific feedback on their performance.

Writing an endorsement means that you believe the candidate meets the general expectations of a level one judge

General Expectations

The baseline expectation for a level one judge is to be able to effectively run an event at an LGS like an FNM or Prerelease. A level one judge should have an understanding of the mechanics required to manage registration and launch an event, even if that process is frequently handled by the Tournament Organizer.

Additionally, their rules and policy knowledge should be enough for most of the players’ questions at the relevant events. They will also have knowledge of the resources available to make an informed ruling in the event they are not wholly confident.

Finally, a level one judge will be seen as a representative of the stores they work for and the judge community as a whole. They will be able to support and further the development of their local magic community and provide direction and resources to other individuals interested in becoming a judge themselves.

Evaluation Guidelines

This document is intended to act as a set of guidelines for evaluating a level one judge candidate. There is a Detailed L1 Evaluation Guide available if you’re interested in further guidance or philosophy.

Before we delve into each of the categories below, let us define the terms being used as labels.

A candidate who is adequate meets the expectations of a judge who is new to the role.

A candidate who is deficient is very far below average and risks seriously underperforming and needs significant improvement.  These are reasons to not endorse a candidate.

This document is a guide – as always, use your best judgment.

Leadership, Presence, and Charisma

Adequate: Can get the attention of 10-20 players without significant difficulty and instructions are generally followed. Players call for the candidate when they have a rule or policy question when the candidate is the judge for the event.

Deficient: Can not get the attention of 15 players reliably. Instructions are frequently ignored. Players seek rulings from people other than the candidate while the candidate is the judge for an event.

Development of Other Judges

Adequate: Can direct a candidate towards educational resources. Knows where they have gaps in their understanding and doesn’t try to teach those skills.

Deficient: Provides inaccurate information regarding the CR or the JAR when talking with judge candidates. Can’t provide direction toward educational resources.

Logistics and Tournament Operations

Adequate: Can run a 16-player FNM with no assistance or a 32-player prerelease with minor assistance from the TO.

Deficient: Struggles to run an 8-16 player FNM without assistance or guidance.

Personal Accountability

Adequate: Doesn’t get overwhelmed by common errors (misentered results, incorrect rulings). Is generally accurate with their evaluation of themselves. Usually reacts well to critical feedback.

Deficient: Is easily overwhelmed by logistical demands. Severely overestimates their skill in multiple areas. Ignores critical feedback.

Teamwork, Diplomacy, and Conflict Management

Adequate: Gets along well with the majority of staff and players. Commits very infrequent diplomatic missteps only through ignorance, and seeks education to correct them. Can manage minor disputes.

Deficient: Gets into heated arguments with other staff members or players. Does not get along well with a significant portion of the community.  Is incapable of de-escalating minor conflicts.

Penalty and Policy Philosophy

Adequate: Can execute the policy written in the JAR and understands the goal of education over penalization.

Deficient: Any of the following are significant issues: Issues strict penalties or favors players in their rulings due to experience or who committed the error. Focuses on penalties and infractions, not fixes. Uses the philosophy of the IPG instead of the JAR to address problems. Handwaves or dismisses players’ concerns as not important.


Adequate: Is able to identify advantageous errors and cheating when they occur and can execute low-complexity backups without significant trouble.

Deficient: Can not perform a low-complexity backup. Only considers the possibility of cheating when someone else brings it up.

Rules and Policy Knowledge

Adequate: Has the knowledge taught in the L1 modules, and tested on the L1 exam, including the JAR and MTR basics, with infrequent errors.

Deficient: Has several areas where they have significant problems and/or frequent errors.


As rules, policies, and the state of Organized Play update and change, new or updated modules will be necessary to ensure that Level 1 judges stay up to date on their knowledge without a requirement to work a specific number of events. As we continue to refine and develop our certifications and processes, we may release maintenance requirements or options that include working specific events. If new required courses are added in the future, judges will be notified by email and on the site itself.

Advanced Roles

There are two advanced roles available to level one judges, Advanced Comprehensive Rules and Competitive REL Policy. These badges are often earned on the path to level two, but a judge does not need to be interested in level two to pursue either of these badges.

MTG Advanced Comprehensive Rules

This badge indicated that the Judge has familiarized themselves with the more complicated rules, interactions, and situations that may arise during high-level play. To earn this badge, a level one judge must complete the Advanced Comprehensive Rules modules and pass the Advanced Comprehensive Rules Test.

Competitive REL Policy

This badge demonstrates an understanding of the Infraction Procedure Guide (IPG), and a level of proficiency in identifying the infractions, penalties, and game/tournament fixes that occur at Competitive REL. To earn this badge, a level one judge must complete the Competitive REL Policy modules and pass the Competitive REL Policy test.


Level 1s do not need to be pursuing Level 2 in order to acquire the Badges available or begin to take the L2 courses.

A Level 2 judge has been certified to run events at Competitive REL, and has a greater knowledge of the rules than a baseline Level 1 Judge. They are responsible for most in-store Competitive REL events and represent the bulk of judges on the floor at large-scale tournaments. A Beginning Level 2 will be expected to have an understanding of the Comprehensive Rules that exceeds that expected of Level 1 Judges, including which section to refer to when they are unsure.

A newer Level 2 may find themselves at events with multiple judges and more complex logistics. Because of this, it’s important that a new Level 2 is familiar with Event Logistics concerns such as Appeals and Deck Lists/Checks, which are generally not used at Regular REL events or small events with a single Judge.

  1. Complete the Level Two Modules (Advanced Comprehensive Rules, Competitive REL Policy, L2 Event Management)
  2. Judge a sanctioned Comp REL event with an L2+
  3. Receive a recommendation from that judge
  4. Pass the L2 Rules and Policy tests


As a judge advances to level two, they’re expected to have a deeper knowledge of the rules and policy of Magic the gathering. The rules are covered in detail in the Advanced Comprehensive Rules branch, and judges are introduced to the Infraction Procedure Guide, which is used for all competitive tournaments in the Competitive REL Policy modules. The Event Management modules will a judge to work as a member of a team at a larger event, or Head Judge at a smaller competitive REL event on their own.

While some level two judges may team lead or head judge larger events, that is not a default expectation of the role.

Competitive REL Event Experience

As with level one requiring event experience, level two also requires some event experience. Some things, like deck checks or issuing penalties to players are hard to simulate and the practical experience of being at an event can help a candidate grow a lot. Furthermore, being observed by another judge allows for the candidate to grow quickly.

This must be a sanctioned, multi-judge competitive REL event. Part of the recommendation review should cover how you interact with policy, and non-sanctioned tournaments aren’t necessarily following official policy. Multi-judge is also a requirement, so that the other judge can see you in action from the perspective of another judge, not someone in the event or around the hall who may have other priorities.

Recommendation Review

A level two judge has certain skills that are judge-specific, and not found in the broader world. While a tournament organizer can recognize good logistical skills or quality customer service and tests can objectively measure rules and policy knowledge, seeing how a judge handles a call or manages end of round is important in verifying their experience. The writer of the review must be a level three judge, or a level two who has had enough experience in the role to really understand the requirements of it. Because of that, only level two judges who have held the certification for at least twelve months or have judged six competitive events since becoming a level two judge can recommend level two candidates.


Upon completion of the modules above and receipt of their recommendation review, a level two candidate can schedule their L2 Exam. This is an open-book, timed online test composed of two segments – one for rules and one for policy.

Expectations and Endorsements

Exact details for expectation for L2 are in progress and will be released shortly.


As rules, policies, and the state of Organized Play update and change, new or updated modules may be necessary to ensure that level 2 judges stay up to date on their knowledge without a requirement to work a specific number of events. As we continue to refine and develop our certifications and processes, we may release maintenance requirements or options that include working specific events. If new required courses are added in the future, judges will be notified by email and on the site itself.

Advanced Roles

There are three advanced roles available to level two judges, Small Event Lead, Medium Event Lead, and Policy Expert. The Medium Event Lead and the Policy Expert badge are requirements for the level three process, but a judge does not need to be interested in advancing to level three to pursue any of these badges.

Small Event Lead Badge

This badge indicates that the judge has experience at larger competitive events and has demonstrated the ability to lead smaller teams of two or three judges, on events with roughly one to two hundred players or can Head Judge a competitive event with under a hundred players. It is reasonable to pursue this badge after working several large competitive events after becoming a level two – perhaps six to twelve months after certifying if the candidate is regularly working on larger events and has experience with many styles of leadership.

To earn this certification, a candidate must receive two endorsements from L3s or Medium Event Lead badge holders who were able to observe the candidate’s performance as a team lead. The candidate must be leading a team of at least two judges and the event must be at least 8 rounds. The endorsements must be from separate events.

Once the candidate has received two endorsements, they will receive the Small Event Lead Badge.

Guidelines for evaluating Team Lead candidates are forthcoming.

Medium Event Lead Badge

This badge indicates that the judge has significant experience with large competitive events, and can lead logistical complex teams that require advanced planning and flexibility. Leadership at this level requires a degree of personal insight and proven growth. Before a judge can apply for their large event lead practical, they must be a level two judge for at least one year.

The first step is to complete the modules for five of the level three pillars: Leadership, Presence & Charisma, Teamwork; Diplomacy & Conflict Management; Stress Management, Self-Evaluation & Maturity; Logistics & Tournament Operations; and Development & Evaluation of other Judges. The next step is to complete self-reviews for each of those pillars. Once the self-reviews have been approved, the candidate can begin to seek out a comprehensive recommendation from level three judges, covering at least four of the five pillars.

With the recommendation complete, the candidate may begin to apply for a Medium Event Lead practical, where they will be shadowed by a level three judge, who will evaluate them based on a rubric as well as the pillars of a level three judge. This will either Head Judging an 8-round+ Comp REL event with at least 6 other judges on staff OR Team Leading a 9-round+ Comp REL event with at least 3 judges on your team, leading either Deck Checks or End of Round. A successful practical results in the Medium Event Lead badge.

To request a MEL Practical, email Advancement@JudgeAcademy.com at least one month before the event. This deadline applies even if you have not been accepted to the event – advance notice is required so that we can begin to give necessary information to the involved parties. Requesting a practical is not a guarantee that it will occur.

Policy Expert Badge

Like with the Medium Event Lead badge, this indicates that the judge is an expert in tournament policy and investigations at large competitive events. There are complex calls that often require consultation because of the potential damage they can do to a match. This includes rewinds, reversing decisions, investigations, and more. Like with the Medium Event Lead badge, this is intended for the most rules and policy-focused judges and has significant requirements. Before a judge can apply for their Policy Expert interview, they must be a level two judge for at least one year.

The first step is to complete the modules for two of the level three pillars: Penalty & Policy Philosophy and Investigations. The next step is to complete self-reviews for each of those pillars. Once the self-reviews have been approved, the candidate can begin to seek out a comprehensive recommendation from level three judges, covering both of the pillars.

With the recommendation complete, the candidate may apply for a PE interview, where they will be asked a series of open-response questions about various calls that could come up. They will be evaluated and graded on their performance. A successful interview results in the Policy Expert badge.

To request a PE interview, email Advancement@JudgeAcademy.com.


Premier judges are experts in the field and the leaders of Premier Organized Play. They are the leaders on the floor of large Competitive and Professional events, run many other Premier Events, and share their expertise and knowledge with other judges. They are involved with the global Judge Program and you will often see them participating in and/or leading program projects.

Becoming Level 3 is a demanding process that requires the candidate to demonstrate exceptional commitment, skill, knowledge, and diplomacy. It is a substantial achievement and the highest recognized level of judge.

  1. Have the MEL and PE badges
  2. Receive at minimum two recommendations for L3
  3. Pass a Prep Interview
  4. Pass the L3 Exam
  5. Complete a Leadership Practical
  6. Pass the L3 Evaluation Interview


There is a lot of overlap between senior level two judges and judges on the level three path, so many steps that are required for level three advancement may have already been completed by a candidate who has significant experience. A candidate can expect to spend a year or more on this process, as they continue to have new opportunities, grow and become a better judge.

  • Have an active level two certification for at least one year, and be in good standing
  • Completed L3 modules for each pillar
  • Approved self-reviews for each pillar
  • Have earned the Medium Event Lead badge
  • Have earned the Policy Expert badge
  • Functional understanding of English
  • Passing L3 Practice Exam (L3P)

Because of the substantial resources put into advancing judges to level three, judges need to show their commitment and dedication to growth by holding a level two certification for at least twelve months. If you’re interested in the level three process, you should attend multiple events that have level three judges also in attendance, to begin to see how they perform and what is expected of them. Similarly, completing the level three modules should give a candidate a foundation from which they can begin their path to level three. However, the modules on their own are not enough to become a level three judge – there is an incredible amount of knowledge and expertise that comes from practical experience and one-on-one mentorship. Furthermore, a candidate should have completed approved self-reviews for each pillar, demonstrating their understanding of both their standing and of the pillars. Details regarding the pillars and expectations for level three candidates can be found on the Evaluation Guidelines page.

Both the MEL and PE badges are required – they show that a candidate is both a qualified and competent leader, and have an exceptional understanding of practical policy philosophy. The L3P covers rules and policy knowledge, tested at a high level. By the time a candidate has received both the LEL and PRP, they should have completed most of the prerequisites – including all of the L3 modules, the self-reviews, and have a passing L3P.

The final prerequisite for the level three path is a functional understanding of English. There are a few reasons for this. First, the default language for the game is in English. At higher levels of judging there is important nuance in the text of the cards, the rules, and policy, and being able to understand the cards without the need of translation is important to maintaining that nuance. Second, the existing level three community uses English as its shared language – the language requirement has existed for a very long time, and so global conversation about tournament policy, mentorship, rules, logistics, and more, frequently occurs in English. While there are many communities of level three judges that also speak other languages, English is generally used as the common language. Third, many elements of the process are only available in English, including the exams and interviews. While having these translated is a long-term goal, our translation efforts are focused on level one and level two content.

L3 Recommendations

As part of the level three path, a candidate must obtain either two comprehensive evaluations or one comprehensive evaluation and three general recommendations from level three judges. A comprehensive evaluation must cover at least six of the seven pillars and include written feedback on each pillar where the recommender disagrees with the candidate’s self-review or gives a non-passing rating. A comprehensive evaluation should be written by a single judge. A general recommendation includes a rating of major deficiency (0) to exceptional (5) on at least six of the seven pillars, and a short written evaluation of the candidate in broad terms, regarding their candidacy. Details on the L3 qualities and expectations, as well as guidelines for writing comprehensive evaluations or general recommendations, can be found on the Evaluation Guidelines page.

L3 Testing and Practicals

After completing their prerequisites and receiving their recommendations, a candidate can begin the final stages before their Evaluation Interview. This consists of:

  • Prep Interview
  • L3 Exam (L3E)
  • L3 Leadership Practical

Candidates should begin with the Prep Interview, as information gathered during it can be useful for the Leadership Practical, and takes the most time. The Prep Interview consists of a set of questions being sent to the candidate, who has several weeks to respond to them. The questions cover all of the pillars and begin to explore how the candidate thinks and approaches problems. Furthermore, the initial set of questions are the same for all candidates. After completion, a Judge Academy evaluator will review their answers and prepare a second set of questions intended for the candidate in particular to further explore areas that may be areas of improvement or deficiencies. If a candidate clearly displays a major deficiency or many minor deficiencies, they can fail the process here and not be able to proceed. The candidate will be provided with feedback on why they failed and will have a six-month cooldown before they can attempt the Prep Interview again.

The L3 Exam is a set of 50 questions covering both rules and policy. At this time, the L3 Exam pool is extraordinarily limited, so access is gated behind other prerequisites. A candidate who scores below an 80% fails and has no recourse until another test is developed.

The L3 Leadership Practical requires the candidate to either Head Judge a 9-round Comp REL event with at least 12 other judges on staff OR Team Lead on a 10-round Comp REL event with at least 4 judges on their team, leading either: Deck Checks, End of Round or Product. The candidate will be shadowed by a level three judge, who will submit an evaluation to Judge Academy. The candidate can not fail the process due to this step. However, information gathered during the practical will inform questions asked in the ongoing Prep Interview and in the Evaluation Interview, where the candidate can fail. One poor performance should not block an otherwise qualified candidate from advancing, but similarly, one good day should not cause an otherwise unprepared candidate to advance.

To request an L3 Practical, email Advancement@JudgeAcademy.com at least one month before the event. This deadline applies even if you have not been accepted to the event – advance notice is required so that we can begin to give necessary information to the involved parties. Requesting a practical is not a guarantee that it will occur.

Evaluation Interview

The final step of the L3 process is the Evaluation Interview. This is an in-person discussion with two level three judges contracted by Judge Academy to evaluate a candidate on the pillars of a level three judge. Evaluation members will have access to the candidate’s self-reviews, recommendations, feedback from any practical taken as part of the level three process, and information gathered from the prep interview. This will form the basis of their exploration into the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. At the conclusion of the panel, the panel lead will write a review for the candidate on all seven qualities and recommend to Judge Academy whether or not the candidate should be promoted to level three.

Self-Review and Recommendation Expiration

Both judges and judging are ever-evolving, and an accurate analysis may become inaccurate over time, which is why fundamental elements of the L3 advancement process expire. Any self-review written as part of the L3 process is valid for one year after approval. Any recommendation written as part of the L3 process is valid for two years.

As an exception, the time between March 2020 to March 2022 is not considered for the purposes of expiration, due to the impact of COVID-19. For example, a self-review written in October 2019 will be valid until October 2022. A recommendation written in January 2020 would be valid until January 2024.

If you have any questions about where you are in the process, and what you should be doing moving forward, please reach out to Advancement@JudgeAcademy.com so we can open a dialogue and find a solution that works for you.

Expectations and Recommendations

This serves as a summary of expectations for candidates, self-reviews, and recommendations. More detail can be found on the Evaluation Guidelines page for both candidates and recommenders.

Pillars of Level Three

There are seven pillars for level three that candidates are explicitly evaluated on as part of the level three process. Additionally, candidates are objectively measured in their rules and policy knowledge through the Level three exam.

Leadership, Presence, and Charisma (LPC): Level three judges are often in explicit leadership roles at events – team leading and head judging, and therefore need to be good at managing other judges. Furthermore, as representatives of the community, it is important that they are approachable and working with them is an enjoyable experience.

Development and Evaluation of Judges (DEJ): As some of the most experienced judges in the program, level three judges have a lot of knowledge that they can share, and helping others achieve their goals is an integral part of the growth of the judge community. Furthermore, as a leader, it is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your team, so that you can properly assign tasks and delegate authority.

Logistics and Tournament Operations (LTO): Of course, a huge part of a level three judge’s role at events is making sure the event functions, outside of just rules and policy. Having the awareness to see potential bottlenecks or issues before they appear, or having the flexibility to address challenges that arise is crucial to being a level three judge.

Self-Evaluation, Stress Management, and Maturity (SSM): Previously in separate pillars, the individual qualities of self-evaluation, stress management, and maturity come together in this pillar. Level three judges often don’t receive a lot of external feedback, and consequently, need to be able to critically evaluate their own performance. Furthermore, leadership roles come with significant amounts of responsibility and consequently stress. Being able to manage that stress and continue to lead is critical. Level three judges also have a degree of implicit authority in the community and it is important that they are aware of the impact their actions and words have on others.

Teamwork, Diplomacy, and Conflict Management (TDC): While level three judges are often tasked as the authority on events, they also have to be prepared to work with other judges in any role required of them. Furthermore, leaders are often sought after to mediate conflict, and judges in positions of authority are often required to de-escalate disgruntled players.

Penalty and Policy Philosophy (PPP): In leadership roles at larger events, level three judges are more likely to see situations that aren’t closely covered by policy, and therefore need to have a solid understanding of the goals of policy, so as to give the best player experience when policy doesn’t necessarily cover the situation.

Investigations (INV): Investigations are the art of handling calls. For level three in particular, there’s a focus on more complex and higher-stakes scenarios. This includes handling card counts, managing life total discrepancies, determining whether to perform a backup, finding the line for reversing decisions and investigating for cheating.

Requirements for Self-Reviews

Self-reviews are submitted as assignments as the last step of the module track for each pillar and are approved independently. A Judge Academy employee reviews them to ensure that they meet the requirements. This approval does not indicate that the approver agrees with your analysis or judgments, but simply that it meets the requirements for its purposes. Self-reviews have several purposes. First, to help the candidate better understand themselves. Many candidates think about themselves with regard to the pillars, but having a formal structure for it ensures that all candidates have considered their ability in each pillar before moving on. Second, it provides a jumping-off point for recommenders – they can utilize the candidate’s own evaluation to dig deeper into areas where they agree or disagree. Its final primary use is in providing information to evaluators – for practicals, the prep interview, and the evaluation interview, giving the judges who are evaluating you a unique perspective on your abilities.

Your recommendation must include:

  1. Strengths
  2. Areas of improvement
  3. Examples supporting your understanding
  4. How you’re addressing the pillar or who you’re working with
  5. Demonstration of understanding of the pillar
  6. A rating of 0 – Major Deficiency, 1 – Minor Deficiency, 2 – Area of Improvement, 3 – Adequate, 4 – Very Good, 5 – Exceptional

Your earliest self-reviews should not be “This is why I’m ready to be a level three judge.” but instead “This is why I’m not ready, and here’s what I’m working on.” More information on the pillars, expectations, and ratings can be found on the Evaluation Guidelines page.

Requirements for Recommendations

There are two types of recommendations that can be provided for a level three candidate. The comprehensive evaluation and a general recommendation. A candidate is required to have at least one comprehensive evaluation, and either a second comprehensive evaluation or three general recommendations. The comprehensive evaluation is a significant commitment of time and energy – to observe the candidate and then to provide them and their future panel with the feedback necessary for their growth and success. However, it’s an important part of the level three process for a candidate to be able to find someone who is willing to put in the effort to help them succeed and who believes in them. Across the candidate’s evaluations, each pillar must be rated at least twice.

Comprehensive Evaluations

A comprehensive evaluation must address at least six of the seven pillars. For each pillar, the evaluation must give a rating of 0 to 5, matching the same scale that candidates evaluate themselves on. However, an evaluator no longer needs to write thorough evaluations of a candidate that boil down to “I agree with what the candidate said in their self-evaluation.” Instead, the evaluation only needs to go into detail regarding pillars where they give a rating of 0, 1, or 2 (a failing rating) or disagree with the candidate’s own evaluation. This should streamline the process so that candidates can get key feedback on their areas of improvement, and the panel gets unique perspectives, and not the same information several times over. Not all pillars can be observed, so the comprehensive evaluation requires only six of the seven pillars to be covered.

General Recommendations

General recommendations have a lower barrier to entry, as they do not require the author to write nearly as much regarding the candidate. However, these also take a holistic view of the candidate, and should only be written if the author believes the candidate is a viable level three candidate. For each pillar the recommendation must give a rating of 0 to 5, matching the same scale that candidates evaluate themselves on. Additionally, the recommendation must include a short recommendation discussing the candidate’s overall qualifications. Authors of general recommendations may be contacted later in the candidate’s process for more detail regarding individual pillars if there is a significant discrepancy in ratings.


As rules, policies, and the state of Organized Play update and change, new or updated modules may be necessary to ensure that level 3 judges stay up to date on their knowledge without a requirement to work a specific number of events. As we continue to refine and develop our certifications and processes, we may release maintenance requirements or options that include working specific events. If new required courses are added in the future, judges will be notified by email and on the site itself.

Advanced Roles

There are currently two advanced roles available to level three judges.

Level 3 Evaluation Lead

The role of evaluation lead is given to judges who have significant experience with evaluations and panels for level 3 candidates. The responsibilities of an Evaluation Lead are to determine the course of investigation by researching the candidate, guide the questions and conversation with the candidate and observer, and write a report to Judge Academy recommending that the candidate is either promoted to L3 or not.

To become an Evaluation Lead, you must participate in at least three evaluations or panels. If you have done so, you will be contracted in the evaluation lead role for an evaluation interview. After submitting your recommendation, your experience and work will be reviewed, upon acceptance, you will receive the Evaluation Lead badge. If you have previous Panel Lead experience and are interested in the L3 evaluation badge, please contact Advancement@JudgeAcademy.com.

(In-Progress) Professional Tournament Head Judge

Judge Academy is working to develop a certification for Head Judging the highest level of tournament play, including events like the Pro Tour and the World Championship. We are working with the individuals responsible for staffing these events to make sure that the certification meets their needs and is a meaningful accomplishment. It is possible that this certification is expanded to cover other tournaments or events.

Certification Eligibility

Age Restrictions

You must be at least 16 years of age to test and be granted Certification.  If you are between the ages of 13 and 16, you may create an account with Parental Consent and view content on the site, however, you cannot be granted Certification until you are at least 16.  If you turn 16 after creating your account, please contact us at questions@judgeacademy.com and we will assist you.